In Memoriam
4th July 2010
Algirdas Brazauskas (1932.09.22 – 2010.06.26) Lithuania’s President 1993 - 1998
Former President Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas. Photo courtesy
Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas, who died last week on June 26, was Lithuania’s first elected President after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence in 1990. His passing was mourned by all of Lithuania with three days of official mourning, culminating in his burial at the Antakalnis cemetery in Vilnius on July 1.
After initially graduating in civil engineering, he later also graduated with a doctorate in economics and began his rise in the government of the then communist Lithuania under the Soviet Union. Having been appointed by Moscow to head the Communist Party in Lithuania, he nevertheless aligned himself with the emerging Sŕjűdis movement in Lithuania and in 1989 he formally made Lithuania’s Communist Party independent of Moscow. This was an act of rare courage, which enraged Moscow and which could have ended disastrously for Brazauskas and Lithuania. No one else in the Soviet Union had the courage to embark on such an unprecedented and bold course of action, which struck at Kremlin’s authority. Some commentators consider that this act made the eventual breakup of the Soviet Union inevitable. The declaration soon afterwards of Lithuania’s independence from the Soviet Union then set forth a chain of events leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
He became a key participant in independent Lithuania’s politics and served as President of Lithuania 1993 – 1998. After brief retirement from active politics he returned to serve as Lithuania’s Prime Minister 2001 – 2006. During his presidency Lithuania made applications to join the European Union and NATO. Lithuania’s efforts to join these bodies achieved success during his period as Prime Minister.
His funeral was attended by a large gathering of present and past Presidents and Prime Ministers of Lithuania’s neighbours and friends. Condolences were received from many world leaders, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton of the USA, President Sarkozy of France, President Medvedev of Russia and even his old adversary, the former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, expressed his condolences.

Further information: 27/06/10 27/06/10 27/06/10 27/06/10 27/06/10 – 02/07/10 27/06/10 – 02/07/10